I am a huge fan of the efficiency of rocket stoves. We were teaching at an expo and came across the Bear River Rocket Stove. I was able to talk to the inventor, Dan Weatbrook, and was greatly impressed by the design and potential that the Bear River Rocket Stove as an emergency cooking device.
What is the best cooking device for a power outage or long term grid down event for a family? The Bear River Rocket Stove uses rocket stove technology to burn sticks and debris efficiently. It has a huge cooktop for cooking and a giant oven for baking. It is sturdy and built to last a lifetime.
The price tag prohibited me from immediately investing in a Bear River Rocket Stove, but I recruited Dan to write an article for the Journal of Civil Defense on efficient rocket stove design. You can find that article in Volume 49 (2016 Issue 1).
When we decided to do a 30-day grid-down cooking challenge, I reached out to Dan to see if we could borrow a stove for the month. Jon rented a trailer and made the long trek up to northern Utah to retrieve “The Freedom” Bear River Rocket Stove from Dan.
Rocket Stove Design
The Freedom Bear River Rocket Stove has a large oven and cooktop that is powered by rocket stoves. That means that with this one device you can both cook and bake.
Rocket stoves are very energy efficient and can be fueled by a variety of small burnables such as twigs, sticks, brush, and wood debris. Rocket stoves utilize airflow to create a hot, efficient fire, similar to a blacksmith using a bellows to create sufficient heat to melt metal. This airflow is created by the draft of the chimneys pulling air through the stove. The result is an excellent heat generation using minimal fuel…a great combination for a prepper stove.
Two Rockets Power the Grill or Cooktop
There are two rocket chambers that heat up the grill on the top of the stove. You can use them individually to heat up only half of the grill or together to heat the entire surface.
One Rocket Powers Oven
A single rocket chamber for the oven is located on the side of the stove with the two exhaust stacks. Both grill rocket chambers must be lit before lighting the rocket chamber to power the oven. All three rockets must be kept going when using the oven.
Burns Very Clean
The Bear River Rocket Stove produces a bit of smoke when it is first lit. Once it heats up there is no visible smoke. The wood burns so well that you have relatively little ash left when you are finished cooking.
Highly Fuel Efficient
The biggest selling point for the Bear River Rocket Stove is its ability to be powered by sticks and debris while using that fuel efficiently. You can use scrap wood, tree prunings, sticks, twigs, even sagebrush will work. One 5-gallon bucket of sticks will fuel both the oven and stove for about one hour.
Built to Last a Lifetime
I have been impressed by the craftsmanship that goes into building a Bear River Rocket Stove. It is built to last a lifetime. There are very few moving parts to break.
It is built on sturdy wheels which make it easy to move around as needed and will securely lock into place during use. The Bear River Rocket Stove requires protection from the weather and common-sense maintenance. It should last pretty much forever if you take care of it.
I love the oven in the Bear River Rocket Stove. It is absolutely huge. We cooked our Thanksgiving turkey in it along with a pie at the same time. I can easily fit two Dutch ovens inside of it. The oven is about 2 feet wide and deep and 16 inches tall. It will accommodate a lot of food.
This rocket stove is much more forgiving than the wood-burning cookstove that I use inside my home. The temperature is more evenly distributed and doesn’t burn foods as readily. There are 2 oven vents on the back to help regulate moisture in the oven and a thermometer on the front to monitor the temperature.
Easy to Use as a Smoker
The oven can be used as a smoker by placing wet wood chips on a tray in the bottom of the oven.
Large Grill or Stovetop
The cooking surface is much larger than my kitchen stove. It is about 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. It has a nice drip tray that runs the length of the front of the stove to handle the grease.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was cooked using the Bear River Rocket Stove this year. While the turkey and pie were in the oven, we boiled potatoes, carrots, giblets, and soup on top of the stove.
The kids had a great time feeding sticks into the rocket stove. We told them that we wanted to maintain the oven temperature at 350° and they got really good at learning exactly how much fuel to add to the rocket stoves to keep it right about there. Playing with the rocket stove was the highlight of the day for our grandkids.
Advantages of Bear River Rocket Stove
The Bear River Rocket Stove is an incredibly valuable tool when cooking for large groups. These are the advantages that we have found.
Burns Renewable, Readily Available Fuel
The Bear River Rocket Stove is fueled by small pieces of wood, sticks, and debris. We acquired (at no cost) a large bundle of mostly hardwood trimmings from a local door manufacturer. These were cut into pieces about 15 inches long, which is an excellent length for feeding the stove.
We could also fuel the rocket stove on an ongoing basis just off of the annual prunings from our trees and bushes.
The stove requires a small amount of fuel and takes advantage of rocket stove technology to get the most out of the fuel. One 5-gallon bucket of sticks can fuel the oven and cooktop for about one hour.
Large Capacity Oven and Cooking Surface
This stove has the potential to cook meals for a lot of people. I had no problem cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people on this stove. The oven is huge and the cooking surface provides plenty of space for several pots or to grill burgers for a crowd.
Burns Clean with Little Smoke
The rocket stove produces almost no smoke due to the efficient use of fuel. There is a bit of smoke produced when the rocket stoves are started, but then there is no visible smoke produced.
Simple to Operate
There is a little bit of a learning curve to understand how to light the wood in the rockets, but that is the extent of it. Our grandchildren kept the rockets going while we cooked our Thanksgiving dinner. Easy as pie (and the pie was good).
The cooktop should always be cleaned and seasoned immediately after use. Ash needs to be removed once it is cooled. Over a long time, some ash will accumulate on the surfaces of the chamber pathways. If the stove is not performing as normal it should, these pathways can be cleaned to restore the stove to full functionality. It’s that simple.
Built to Stand the Test of Time
Dan only uses quality material and the stove is handcrafted to make sure that it will work just right. In a disposable world, it is refreshing to see this type of high-quality product. The only moving parts are the heavy-duty wheels that allow the oven to be easily moved, the hinges on the oven door, and the latch mechanism that keeps the oven door shut.
Disadvantages of Bear River Rocket Stove
As with anything, there are a few disadvantages to the Bear River Rocket Stove. These are a few things that we learned while playing with this fun prepper toy.
Requires Effort to Keep Rocket Stoves Fed
You can’t just stoke the fire and walk away with this or any other rocket stove. Every few minutes the sticks need to be fed deeper into the stove and new ones added. Great job for grandkids, not so much fun for the grandma who is trying to keep everything else going.
Takes Time to Reach Cooking Temperature
I’m used to being able to flip a switch and have a nearly instant cooking temperature. Not so with the rocket stove. There is a lot of mass that needs to be heated up. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes to achieve cooking temperature, depending on the outside temperature and wind.
All Rocket Chambers must be Active When Using the Oven
When using the oven, all 3 rocket chambers must be fired and fed to create a sufficient draft for efficient use. The best solution for this is to plan your meals or cooking events to utilize both the oven and the griddle. Remember, the griddle can be used as a stovetop for cooking with pots and pans, as well as for grilling.
Outside Use Only
The Bear River Rocket Stove is designed for outdoor use only.
Substantial Initial Investment
The Bear River Rocket Stove is an investment. The model that I like, The Freedom, is about $4850. In my world, that means planning and saving to purchase one. That investment will likely pay for itself in fuel savings over the years as well as peace of mind that you are ready to cook during an extended power outage.
Bear River Models Available
There are three models of Bear River Rocket Stoves currently available. Click here for details on each one of them.
The largest of the Bear River Rocket Stoves, The Shepherd has a 4-food griddle and a 3-foot oven. It is powered by 3 rockets and has a price tag of $5850 delivered. This would be perfect if you are planning to cook for a large family, scout troop, neighborhood, or need to cook a lot of food at once.
This is the perfect size for our crazy family. It has a 3-foot griddle and a 2-foot oven. I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people using this rocket stove. It retails for $4850 delivered.
I could easily see being able to take care of my family’s cooking needs, as well as helping out my neighbors, during a power outage using this rocket stove. Big enough to take care of us but small enough to fit on my covered patio.
The “Little Guy”
If you are only looking for a grill or cooktop, this is the stove for you. It has a 2-foot griddle but does not have an oven. It is $2500 delivered.
Overall Impression – I LOVE IT!
My overall impression of the Bear River Rocket Stove is highly favorable. It is a high-quality product that uses readily available fuel to both cook and bake.
After using the Bear River Rocket Stove in our 30-Day Grid Down Cooking Challenge I didn’t want to take it back to Dan. I was able to convince Santa that I had tried to be very, very good this year he decided that it would make a great Christmas gift for me.
I am so excited to have a Bear River Rocket Stove as one of my backyard power outage and party cooking devices. One of our neighbors texted when he learned we might be purchasing it. He wanted to be first on the list to barter cooking time on it during a power outage. This is going to prove to be a great asset in so many ways.
Purchase a Bear River Rocket Stove
The Bear River Rocket Stove an incredible tool for feeding a family or a large group of people during a power outage. This stove would be a fantastic investment if you are preparing for any type of a long term grid down event.
You can purchase a Bear River Rocket Stove by calling 435.730.5160 or visit their website at BearRiverRocketStoves.weebly.com. Tell Dan the Provident Preppers sent you!
Thanks for being part of the solution!Jonathan and Kylene Jones